As part of an initiative to raise funds for rural Eastern Cape schools, a Wits University graduate is walking from Braamfontein to Dutywa over 20 days.
Rhodes University’s newly inaugurated vice-chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, has vowed that no academically talented – but financially needy – young person will be turned away from Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
“It is a bit aspirational,” he told Wits Vuvuzela. “But we have to make a point that we will raise funds. I will make it my personal mission.”
When Mabizela became deputy vice-chancellor in 2008, he made a “salary sacrifice” and contributed part of his salary towards a bursary fund that assists financially needy students who are academically talented, mostly from poor and rural families.
As vice-chancellor, he said that he will increase this contribution, to about R300 000 in total. He will also continue to encourage community members and university staff to contribute.
“In fact, I encourage every young person in this country to make a contribution,” he said.
Mabizela is the first black African vice-chancellor at Rhodes University in over 100 years, but does not want people to “get hung up on this”.
“That I happen to be black and African is simply an accident of history from which we have just emerged. I don’t want this to be elevated above any and everything else, because I would be deeply troubled if I was appointed simply because of that.”
He said that when he accepted, he made it very clear that he was not motivated by personal glory or material and financial gain, but rather by a commitment to serve the university and wider South Africa.
Rhodes had to turn away approximately 130 students at the start of the year, because they were denied National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funds and were unable to register. Mabizela described the experience of having to deny qualifying students an education as “painful”.
Under Sizwe’s leadership as a part of senior management for over six years, Rhodes has matched NSFAS’ contribution of R32-million by spending approximately R34-million on assisting “desperately poor” but academically strong students.
One of Sizwe’s aims is to make the university more socially aware and one that “tackles local problems and challenges facing Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape”.
The university plans to make it a centre of academic excellence, improving primary school education, all the way to tertiary education.
“We have to brighten this corner where we find ourselves.”
By Shandukani Mulaudzi and Mfuneko Toyana , Qunu – Eastern Cape
Tears, song and cheering filled the marquee where the people of Qunu gathered to bid a fond farewell to their late neighbour and former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Although the mainstream media reported that some members of the Qunu community were disappointed they could not attend the funeral, Wits Vuvuzela found many who contradicted these reports
Hundreds – both young and old – gathered at the Nelson Mandela Museum where they could watch the funeral. Even those who had watched the first part of the programme on their televisions at home headed up the hill to share in the last few moments of the funeral with their fellow community members.
When the procession, led by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), moved towards the burial site some cried while others sat silently and watched.
When the 21 gun salute started the people ran forward to watch the SANDF planes fly over the hills of Qunu. Many raised their fists in a silent salute.
After the screens were turned off the people sat down for a while before heading home.
In Mvezo, where Mandela was born, people were at a public viewing marquee long after the screens were switched off. While children played and dogs ran wild, the elders spoke under the tents and the young men and women leaned against fences chatting.
Diniso Mzikayise was born and raised in Mvezo. He said even though they could not attend the funeral they were happy that the screen was put up so they could share the moment together as a community.
Mzikayise said he did not know of any people who were hurt because they could not go to the funeral. He said if those people did exist, they probably internalised their frustrations.
Mthatha-residents Billy Johnson and Luxolo Ndabeni said they would have happily attended one of the public viewing tents in Qunu fitted with big screens and offering a free lunch after the service.
Unfortunately, Johnson said, they needed to make an urgent delivery that morning, and more importantly, they needed the money.
Ndabeni said he respected Mandela because he had not “abandoned his town like other leaders. But he expressed disappointment that Mthatha residents were not able to attend Mandela’s funeral.
He lamented that only certain could benefit financially from projects intended to develop Mthatha.
“It’s not like in Joburg, here only if you have van then maybe you can make some money. But even then when there are projects only those with connections get the work,” Ndabeni said.
“If you want money but your family aren’t rich and connected …” he added before trailing off.
With the huge tent where the funeral service was being held peering over a slope behind them, Johnson tapped his wrist with two fingers.
“uMandela besimthanda kodwa kufenekile siyenze imali (We loved Mandela but need to make money),” Johnson said.
And off they went.
The final scene in the story of a giant’s life took place today in Qunu, Eastern Cape. Ten days of mourning came to a climatic end, as Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in the place of his birth.
Mandela’s casket was transported on the back of a military truck, after days of back and forth movement when lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria to be viewed by the public and a further journey to Qunu for the funeral.
Ninety five candles representing each year of Mandela’s life were lit on the stage, “to remember the years he was on earth and more especially the contribution that he made to our country,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, the programme director and ANC deputy president.
Ahmed Kathrada, close friend to Mandela gave an emotional and heartfelt tribute to his friend as he recalled memories of their long friendship. Kathrada ended his speech by bidding farewell to his “elder brother” without whom he did not know which way to turn. Kathrada said Mandela has now left to join the “A-team” of the ANC, including Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and many others.
“He is no more in terms of this life but he is still our leader”
Malawi’s first woman president, Joyce Banda paid tribute to Mandela by saying he paved the way for people like herself to be where they are today. Banda spoke about practicing the lessons taught by Mandela instead of just speaking about them.
“Leadership is about falling in love with the people that you serve and the people falling in love with you. It’s about serving the people with selflessness, with sacrifice and with the need to put common good ahead of personal interest,” said Banda.
Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete reminded those in attendance and those watching across the world of the lengths and depths countries across the continent took to protect exiled leaders and assist in fighting the oppressive apartheid regime. Kikwete also highlighted that the South Africa’s grief was shared by Tanzania and the rest of the country.
One of the highlights at the service came when former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda took to the podium to speak, or rather ran to the podium to speak. He spoke candidly and honestly about the oppressive masterminds of the apartheid regime in South Africa. He urged South Africans to remain united by way of honouring Mandela’s legacy. “He is no more in terms of this life, but he is still our leader… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” ended Kuanda.
About 4 500 guests were in attendance at the funeral service which played out over two hours starting at eight in the morning. Cyril Ramaphosa read a list including heads of state, former heads of state, traditional leaders, ANC leadership and others to indicate who was allowed to proceed to the burial, only 450 or so guests were allowed to proceed to the gravesite after the service. Those who stayed behind watched on big screens under the marquee where the service took place.
The hope was for Mandela to be laid to rest at exactly 12 noon, when the sun was at its highest and its shadow at its shortest, honouring a traditional belief that people of great stature must be laid to rest at this time. Unfortunately that did not materialise, with the casket only lowered into the ground closer to 1pm. This last moment was a private one for the Mandela family, that was not shown on television. Robala ka khutso Tata.
- Wits Vuvuzela: Wits University remembers Mandela at fireside chat, December 2013.
- Wits University: Mandela Memorial (photographs, audio and video available), December 2013.
- Wits Vuvuzela: UPDATED GALLERY: Mandela memorial, December 2013.
- Wits Vuvuzela: South Africans see the last of Nelson Mandela, December 2013.
So it looks like Limpopo might produce a whole generation of Malemas. Education is the key to success but these northern youngsters aren’t exactly experiencing the “better life for all”.
The textbook saga is just another example of the ANC’s failure to curb corruption and mismanagement. But are voters finally going to ask: “What about the kids … what about my kids?”
Voting for the ANC in 1994 was certainly no mistake. Voting for them ever since, out of loyalty, fear, hope or whatever other reason, might’ve been a bad idea. Unemployed youth are angry and from these hopeless masses rise the likes of Julius Malema. Whether he still stands for that crowd or just stands to profit from their desperation is debatable. But he represents where it all went wrong – trying to fix things that may not be broken and further breaking things that need fixing. Case in point: education.
In a radio interview this week president Zuma insisted that education is a top priority as it receives a hefty portion of the budget. But one can’t help question why things are so bad in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo if that were true. Perhaps the wrong aspects within education are being prioritised.
It seems the ANC-led government may be trying to fix the problem from the top down. BEE, possible lower university entrance requirements, alleged inflated matric results … why not make just a slightly better effort at improving primary and high school education? Delivery of textbooks is such a basic process, how could it possibly have gone this wrong? Why not pay teachers, arguably the most important members of our society, a better salary? If you are a teacher in the Eastern Cape you might appreciate being paid at all.
The ANC-led government is giving our children a slap in the face. Yet parents and young adults keep voting for the party. Is that not a slap in the face to everyone who is trying their hardest to get ahead? Minister Angie Motshekga’s defence of her actions, or lack thereof, is offensive to say the least.
The Ethics Institute of SA should be supported for saying this week that officials should take responsibility for this debacle. An emotional observer might go further and say that Minister Motshekga is a disgrace to women who lead and a disgrace to what the ANC once was.
But forget about her. Just think of all the opportunities school children in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape will miss out on. Malema is right about one thing: the gap between rich and poor is widening. But neither he nor the current government has the solution.
The money is there, we just need the corruption and mismanagement to stop. For our children’s sake.